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Cold Shower Benefits: Best Time, How Long, What Temperature, And Side Effects

Listen to the post, Cold Shower Benefits: Best Time, How Long, What Temperature, And Side Effects, on our Live Lean TV Podcast. Don’t forget to subscribe to the podcast!

Are Cold Showers Good Or Bad For You?

On today’s episode of Live Lean TV, I’m diving into the research to uncover the true benefits of cold showers, as well as answering the most frequently asked questions including how long, what temperature, side effects, and more.

Are cold showers good for your health or are they bad for you?

It’s no secret that over the last few years, the amount of social media content produced about cold showers and cold plunges has made it a very popular topic in the health and fitness industry.

Typically when viral trends like this happen, a lot of health claims get hyped up, which in some cases are correct, while in many more cases, are misleading.

The goal of this post is to cut through all the marketing BS to help you decide if cold showers are good for you and your specific goals.

To do this, I’ll quickly answer the most frequently asked questions, by diving into the research, then articulating the findings in an easy to understand format.

The Most Frequently Asked Questions About Cold Showers Include:

At the end of this post, I’ll share the science backed evidence on the real benefits of cold showers.

However, before we jump into the science, let me first share how and why I embraced cold water showers and cold plunges.

Why I First Started Taking Cold Showers

I first started taking cold showers back in the summer of 2018 for 3 reasons:

  1. I live in Southern California, so when I’m hot after a workout, I take a cold shower to lower my body temperature and reduce sweating.
  2. A cold water shower is an instant shot of caffeine that just makes you feel alive.
  3. I love taking cold showers to build my mental strength and fortitude to endure difficult situations, challenges, and discomfort.

When you start your day with a cold shower, you feel like you can take on any challenge that is thrown at you that day.

However, I admit, I haven’t been consistently taking cold showers everyday, as I am more consistent when it’s hot in the summer.

Then in 2022, we bought a house with a spa and pool.

In the winter, the pool water temperature drops to 50F, so I like to occasionally alternate between cold plunges in the pool, and hot water in the spa.

Now that you know why I first started, let’s now dig into the research to substantiate the most common claims about cold showers.

Are cold showers worth it?

Let’s jump into it and find out.

Do Cold Showers Increase Testosterone?

Research suggests that cold showers may affect better sperm production, however this doesn’t necessarily translate to higher testosterone levels.

In fact, this study showed physical activity increased testosterone production, however cold water exposure did not impact testosterone levels.

To sum it up, cold showers are not a quick fix for increasing testosterone levels.

The most important factors to naturally increase testosterone include a:

  1. Healthy balanced diet rich in healthy fats, proteins, zinc, magnesium, and vitamin D
  2. Regular exercise combining resistance training and HIIT
  3. Reducing excess body fat
  4. Adequate sleep
  5. Reducing stress
  6. Limiting alcohol and avoiding smoking
  7. Regular sex
  8. Minimizing exposure to BPA and phthalates found in plastics

Do Cold Showers Burn Fat And Help You Lose Weight?

Research, including this study, suggest exposure to cold temperatures may activate brown fat, also know as brown adipose tissue (BAT).

Unlike white adipose tissue (WAT), which stores excess calories in the form of triglycerides, brown fat is a type of fat that can boost your metabolism by burning calories to generate heat.

This is why some people claim cold showers can help you lose weight.

However, even though the research is promising, the evidence supporting the idea that cold showers specifically burn fat and aid in weight loss is still limited.

While cold exposure may contribute to modest increases in calorie expenditure, at this time, the research isn’t clear on how significantly it impacts overall calorie balance or weight loss.

The most important factor in losing weight is being in a calorie deficit via a healthy balanced diet and regular exercise.

Are Cold Showers Good For Muscle Growth And Recovery?

The research on whether cold showers are beneficial for muscle growth and recovery is mixed.

Cold exposure from cold showers may constrict blood vessels, reduce blood flow to muscles, and trigger the release of certain hormones, which may potentially reduce inflammation and promote muscle repair and growth.

However, this study indicates that cold water immersion may not significantly improve muscle recovery or performance, compared to other recovery methods, such as active recovery or rest.

Lastly, this study shows cold water showers after strength training may be negatively impacting muscle gains and “killing your gains”.

Overall, while cold showers may offer some benefits for muscle recovery, their effectiveness may vary depending on the individual.

At this time, the research is inconclusive.

Do Cold Showers Help Anxiety?

The scientific evidence regarding the effects of cold showers on anxiety is limited and inconclusive.

Some people report feeling a temporary reduction in anxiety and stress after taking a cold shower due to the physiological response triggered by cold exposure.

Cold exposure activates the sympathetic nervous system, which can temporarily increase alertness and elevate mood by releasing neurotransmitters like adrenaline and noradrenaline.

Additionally, cold exposure may promote the release of endorphins, which are natural mood enhancing chemicals.

However, individual responses to cold showers vary, and some individuals may find cold showers anxiety inducing, especially if they have a low tolerance to cold temperatures or certain medical conditions.

Are Cold Showers Good For Skin And Hair Health?

Scientific research suggests that cold showers may have some benefits for skin and hair health, but the evidence is not conclusive.

Cold water can constrict blood vessels, reduce inflammation, and seal pores, which may help improve skin tone and reduce redness.

Additionally, cold water may promote hair health by closing hair cuticles, which can make hair appear smoother and shinier.

Overall, while cold showers may offer some benefits for skin and hair health, individual responses to cold water exposure can vary.

What Is The Best Time To Take Cold Showers?

The best time to take cold showers depends on your goals.

Cold Shower Morning

Taking a cold shower in the morning can help:

  • Wake you up
  • Increase alertness
  • Invigorate the body for the day ahead
  • Improve mental fortitude to overcome discomfort throughout the day

Cold Shower Before Workout

Some people prefer cold showers before their workouts as they can:

  • Enhance focus
  • Boost mental alertness
  • Prepare the body for physical activity
  • Improve circulation

Cold Shower After Workout

Some people prefer cold showers post workout as they find it cools them down, while possibly aiding in muscle recovery.

Cold Shower – Before Bed

A cold shower before bed may promote relaxation and improve sleep quality by lowering body temperature, which can help you fall asleep faster.

Others may find it stimulating and disruptive to sleep.

Research is still limited and inconclusive on the best time to take a cold shower.

Ultimately, the best time to take cold showers depends on your personal preferences.

How Long Should You Do A Cold Shower?

Studies suggest that exposure to cold water for at least 2-3 minutes may be sufficient to experience certain benefits.

Over time, you can gradually increase the duration as you become more accustomed to the cold temperature.

However, it’s essential to listen to your body and adjust the duration to avoid any negative reactions.

What Temperature Should A Cold Shower Be?

Generally, cold water temperatures range from around 50 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit (10 to 21 degrees Celsius).

This temperature range is considered cold enough to trigger physiological responses associated with cold exposure, such as the narrowing of blood vessels and activation of brown fat, without causing potential harm.

However, some individuals may prefer colder temperatures closer to 50 degrees Fahrenheit for a more intense cold exposure.

Gradually adjusting the water temperature from warm to cold can help acclimate the body to the cold shock and minimize discomfort during the shower.

How To Motivate Yourself To Try The 30 Day Cold Shower Challenge

Create a routine by committing to the 30 day cold shower challenge.

Motivating yourself to take a cold shower can be challenging, but consistency can help make it a habit over time.

Here are some tips to help:

  1. Start by gradually reducing the temperature at the end of your regular shower session, then over time, you can increase the duration of cold exposure.
  2. Remind yourself of the benefits, your why, and visualize how you’ll feel after the cold shower.
  3. Try the 30 Day Cold Shower Challenge in the hot summer months rather than the winter.
  4. Practice mindfulness techniques, such as deep breathing or visualization, to help calm your mind and manage any discomfort during the cold shower.
  5. Reward yourself after each cold shower session with something enjoyable, such as a healthy snack or warm beverage.

How To Start Taking Cold Showers

  1. Begin your shower with warm water as usual.
  2. Gradually decrease the temperature towards the end of your shower.
  3. Once the water is cold, start the timer for 1-2 minutes, then build up to 3 minutes of continuous cold water at the end of your shower.
  4. During the cold shower, start with your feet and hands, then make sure it hits your neck, shoulders, and upper back to activate brown fat.
  5. Focus on slow, deep breaths to help manage the initial shock of cold water.
  6. Consistency and routine is key to building tolerance to cold showers.
  7. If you experience adverse reactions adjust the temperature or duration accordingly.

By following this gradual approach and staying consistent, you can effectively train your body to adapt to cold showers and experience their potential benefits.

What Are The Side Effects Of Cold Showers?

Cold showers generally pose minimal risk and are well tolerated by most individuals.

However, the following potential side effects may occur, especially if the cold exposure is prolonged or extreme:

  1. Prolonged exposure to cold water can lead to a drop in body temperature, resulting in hypothermia.
  2. Cold exposure can cause temporary numbness and tingling in the extremities due to vasoconstriction of blood vessels.
  3. Cold water may irritate sensitive skin and existing skin conditions, such as eczema or dermatitis.
  4. Some people may experience shortness of breath or respiratory discomfort when exposed to cold water, especially if they have underlying respiratory conditions.
  5. Cold exposure can trigger the body’s stress response, leading to an increase in heart rate and blood pressure in some individuals.

If you’re interested in cold showers, it’s important to listen to your body and adjust the duration and intensity of cold showers based on your tolerance level.

What Are The Benefits Of Taking A Cold Shower?

With all this said, are cold showers good or bad for you?

Well, the scientific research on cold showers suggests that they can have both positive and negative effects on the body, depending on the individual person.

Based on scientific research, cold showers offer several potential benefits:

  1. Improved Circulation
  2. Increased Alertness
  3. Boosted Immunity
    • Cold exposure may stimulate the production of white blood cells, which play a crucial role in the body’s immune response, potentially strengthening immunity over time.
  4. Mood Enhancement
    • Cold showers trigger the release of endorphins, neurotransmitters associated with feelings of well being and happiness, leading to improved mood and reduced stress.

Although the research is not conclusive:

  1. Cold exposure also activates brown fat, which burns calories to generate heat, potentially aiding in weight loss.
  2. Cold water may also improve skin and hair health.

Although the research is very promising for overall health and well being, ultimately more research is needed to fully understand the long term effects of cold showers.

Ultimately, I love cold showers to build mental strength and fortitude.

If that is important to you, take the 30 day cold shower challenge.

That’s it for today’s quick overview on cold showers.

Thanks for watching and keep Living Lean.


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Question Of The Day:

  • Have you ever tried taking cold showers?
  • If so, what do you like and dislike about them?

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